Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne made the extraordinary statement that sugar is not the main problem associated with tooth decay in response to calls from dentists to have a tax on sugar. His comments were made on the current affairs Programe Sunday on the 7th of March 2015.
Sunday “Peter Dunne says the answer to our oral health problems could lie in more education and fluoridation.”
PD: “We are certainly looking at that (fluoridation) because we know from the evidence that it works.”
Sunday “But doesn’t it all start with sugar?”
PD: “No it doesn’t start with sugar?”
PD: “I don’t think we are addicted to sugar. I don’t think it is a good thing that we consume that amount of sugar per capita but I don’t think that we can put a tax on sugary drinks and it all goes away”.
Read the entire transcript.
His comments are completely out of line with a recent WHO publication, Guideline: Sugars intake for adults and children. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015 which, happens to be peer reviewed by the Otago Dental School’s very own Murray Thomson.
In their publication they state,
“Although exposure to fluoride reduces dental caries at a given age, and delays the onset of the cavitation process, it does not completely prevent dental caries, and dental caries still progresses in populations exposed to fluoride”
Wellington Dentist Dr Stan Litras identified the small amount of difference that fluoridation makes to reducing tooth decay in his press release: WHO: Sugar causes tooth decay, fluoridation no use
Clearly Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne is denying the fact that sugar is having a huge impact on the level of tooth decay in New Zealand. This comes on the back of the Minister of Health exempting fluoride chemicals from the medicines act on 27 January 2015.